Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Campaign Filings Won’t Show: Super PACs’ Growing Sway

By ERIC LICHTBLAU and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, NYT
JULY 15, 2015

WASHINGTON — Presidential contenders provided a glimpse inside their campaign war chests on Wednesday, releasing financial statements that offered the first detailed accounting of how the candidates were raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of elected office.

The reports showed, for instance, that Jeb Bush has relied largely on wealthy donors giving the maximum contribution — attracting far less financial support from more modest donors — and that Rick Perry, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum are burning through the money they have raised much more quickly than most of their opponents.

Hillary Rodham Clinton raised the most money for the primary of any candidate, $46.7 million, while Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, running against Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination, brought in $15 million, the vast majority of it from donors giving $200 or less.

But while the reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission, provided an early look at the campaigns’ financial operations, they tell only part of the story; they did not include money being raised by the “super PACs” and other outside groups that are supporting many of the candidates.

The Republican presidential candidates are almost uniformly relying on these groups, which can tap unlimited corporate and individual contributions, to amass the financial firepower they need to break through a crowded field. This is a stark departure from past campaigns, and has made most of the candidates deeply reliant on a handful of ultra-wealthy donors.

“As long as there is an enormous advantage — and it is literally enormous — to raising money in super PACs instead of in hard money to campaigns, people are going to do what mathematically makes sense,” said Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 presidential bid was bolstered by a well-funded super PAC.

(More here.)

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